Crackdown on international students could cost UK £2bn a year

Universities losing out to international students is not just a loss to the the universities but also to the wider economy.

A new report by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) said that Brexit could cost the UK economy £2bn a year. This would be from a combination of a loss in tuition fees, a loss in non-tuition fee expenditure (e.g. accommodation) as well as an even bigger loss from “the detrimental impact on universities’ supply chains”.

Were the Home Office to conduct yet another crackdown on international students, then the UK could lose out on £2 billion a year just when we need to show we are open for business like never before.”

Nick Hillman, director of Higher Education Policy Institute

The report points out that universities have a knock-on impact on the economy. And that any impact to university income would lead to a bigger impact on the wider economy. This is the “detrimental impact on universities’ supply chains” that the report refers to.

And although there could be gains from an increase in tuition fees particularly for the oldest universities, these would be wiped out if international student numbers were further restricted.

Welcoming international students boosts “UK prosperity”

HEPI director, Nick Hillman called on the government to remove international students from the net migration target. The report’s authors echoed this sentiment saying that £2bn a year is “ample reason” to let more international students come and study in the UK.

With an economic value of £2 billion per annum, there is ample reason to allow more international students to come and study in the UK, thereby boosting UK prosperity, as well as maintaining the UK’s global reach and influence.”

Gavan Conlon and Maike Halterbeck, authors of the report from London Economics

You can find more on the report at

The findings are in line with an earlier report we did on why foreign students should be welcomed. Restricting their numbers isn’t just bad business, it doesn’t make sense and makes the country an even harder sell to all those countries we’re meant to be building relationships with outside of the EU.

Brexit already impacting negatively on universities

Yesterday, MPs heard from top academics who warned that Brexit was already impacting negatively on universities. Students were feeling dissuaded from coming to the UK since the referendum with “anti-immigrant sentiment” and a worry that “uncertainty over future research collaboration” amongst their concerns. And a survey of lecturers and professors found that 76% of non-UK EU academics were considering leaving the UK.

Foreign students should be welcomed, not shunned

A hard Brexit would be “biggest disaster” for universities

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